Adam Franciszek Szczawinski

SZCZAWINSKI, Dr. Adam Franciszek Passed away peacefully on June 2, 2006 at Victoria General Hospital. Predeceased by his wife Mary nee McAlpine in 1968. Survived by his son Alan, (Barbara Lund) and three grandchildren Jacob, Maxwell and Kira. Born in Zubra, near Lwow, Poland on October 21,1913. He obtained a Ph.D. in botany from the University of Lwow in 1937 and he taught at both the Commercial College and the University of Lwow until 1939. With the start of World War II, Lwow was occupied by Russia, so he became active with the Polish underground. He was imprisoned by the Russians, but escaped to France in April 1940 and joined the Polish Army. When France collapsed he was imprisoned by the Germans. He once again escaped, this time to Britain where he joined the Polish Air Force in London. He quickly rose through the ranks becoming Director of Education, then Acting Wing Commander and personal advisor to the Air Officer Commanding Head of the Polish Air Force. After the war ended, he joined the Royal Air Force staying there until 1948 when he married a Scotswoman, Mary M. McAlpine and together they immigrated to Canada. They settled in Richmond B.C. as farmers, growing potatoes, corn and flowers. He then tried for a position in botany, but found his Ph.D. from Poland was unrecognized, so he redid another Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia (UBC). In 1953 he graduated as the first UBC recipient of a Ph.D. in botany. In 1955 he moved to Victoria to serve as Curator and Head of the Botany Division of the Provincial Museum, where he worked until his retirement in 1975. Over the course of his museum career he published many books on plants and mushrooms of British Columbia. While at the museum, he and his colleague, Dr. Clifford Carl developed a vision and plan for a World Class museum. His dream came true in August 1968, when the Royal B.C. Museum opened. After his retirement, he continued his life long work with Botany, writing numerous books with his coauthor Dr. Nancy Turner. He enjoyed life to it's fullest. He had many wonderful friends who supported him so he could remain living by himself in his own house. We thank them for their care and friendship. We also wish to thank Adam's physician/practice Dr. and Mrs. Jan Urban, the homecare workers and the staff at the Victoria General Hospital who gave him the very best of care which helped to extend his life over the last 10 years. By Adam's request, there will be no service, and a private interment will occur later. Flowers are graciously declined. If so desired, donations in Adam's memory may be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. 255160
Published by The Times Colonist from Jun. 9 to Jun. 10, 2006.
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As a member of the press gallery for The Times in the 1960s, I have many memories of chats with Adam and his lively interest, not only in botany but all of life. I particularly remember an occasion when he accepted my wife Peggy's invitation to come out to our home to identify some mushrooms. We were living on Piers Island as pioneering year-round residents at the time. When he arrived at the Islanders' satellite dock beside the old Mowat ferry operation to be ferried across in our dinghy, we were slightly taken aback because he was dressed in his usual natty shirt, tie and jacket, complete with vest. But he clambered in happily and we putted over to the Island, hiked up the pathway to our home for tea and then along the rough trails into the wooded interior. On the way he became jovially excited and took his place at the head of our party (we had dogs, a cat and a couple of goats following us single file) happily describing the crop of both meadow mushrooms and lactaria as one of the best he'd seen since visiting Washington State - until he suddenly and completely disappeared from view. To our alarm, he'd tripped over a fallen tree truck. But up he popped, with a huge grin, holding high a large mushroom. "See," he said triumphantly.
John Mika
June 20, 2006
The account of Adam's many facets and contributions detailed in the Times-Colonist obituary somehow manages to miss one that may have longest effect: the importance of his book, Guide to Common Mushrooms of British Columbia, in motivating the development of the mushroom-hunting hobby (and passion) in this province.

Thousands of mushroomers have relied on the pictures and descriptions in his book to determine which mushrooms were hazardous or of poor flavour; which were safe and delicious. A very fortunate few were led by Adam to his favorite spots and enjoyed his cooking of the results.
Thanks, Adam, for sharing so much with all of us!

CRoger and Winnie
Roger Ruth
June 14, 2006
Adam was a dear friend, confidant and role model for how to fully be alive! I loved him for his humor, integrity, enthusiasm, and all that he represents. I am honored to have been his friend while I lived in Victoria and remember him as a "truly unforgettable gentleman."

Anita Bains
Anita Bains
June 11, 2006
Dr Adam was a wonderful, bright, charming man, who easily made friends and left a lasting impression. We were so honored when he spoke at our wedding in 1987.
Our memories of engaging, intelligent conversations filled with humor and substance, will remain with us.
We are saddened by your loss and may you take comfort in knowing we share in your sorrow.
Mark, Nadia & Kiel Dabielski
June 10, 2006
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